Karen Bernard, photo by Sheilagh O’Leary
Karen Bernard is a choreographer and multi-discipline solo performance artist based in New York City. She began studying dance at age three with her father, Steven Bernard, a company member with 20th century pioneer, Charles Weidman. She grew up in a household which incorporated her father’s dance school, with students crossing through the family space, so performance art has been deeply engrained throughout her life. As an artist and the Founder and Director of New Dance Alliance (NDA), she teaches, lectures and serves on advisory panels across the U.S., Canada and Europe. This cross-pollination strengthens an ongoing social dialogue among international artists, one that exemplifies her lifelong commitment to performance. That commitment is fully brought to life in NDA’s justly-renowned Performance Mix Festival, now in its 30th year.
Between 1986 and 1998, Bernard presented a series of solos in collaboration with Dia Center for Arts and went on to be presented at The Kitchen and Performance Space 122 (It Could Have Been Different) and Danspace at St. Mark’s Church and Dance Theater Workshop (Blue). These solos mark the passages of her life experiences as daughter, wife, mother and artist – “spellbinding performer with unusual themes.” Jennifer Dunning, New York Times. In 2004, incorporating old video footage, conversational text, and popular music, Bernard received critical acclaim for Removed Exposure, which premiered at Dixon Place in New York and went on to the Festival of New Dance in St. John’s, Newfoundland; Women in Transition, a festival in Vienna; then was remounted at Here Arts Center in New York. A handmade book of the same name, Removed Exposure, was co-created with Canadian bookmaker Gray Fraser. In 2006, Totally In Love premiered at The Kitchen – “lusty,” said Deborah Jowitt in the Village Voice and in 2008 Surfing The Shadow premiered at Joyce SoHo. Bernard has received support from the Electronic Media and Arts with support from New York State Council on the Arts AKA Experimental Television Center, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Meet The Composer, The Field’s Independent Artist Challenge Program Grant, the Puffin Foundation and USAProject Artist. Her work has been developed through The Field and residencies at Bogliasco, Earthdance, Silo, White Oak, TRACTOR D’Clinic, Firkin Crane, Movement Research Artist In Residence, The Kitchen Dance In Progress and Wassard Elea. She has been invited to tour to venues in Portland, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Amsterdam, Berlin, Vienna, St. John’s Newfoundland, Montreal, Toronto, and Quebec City. She received a BAX 10 award for her invaluable service to artists in the founding and development of the Performance Mix Festival.